Advocates encourage sexual assault victims to continue fighting for justice

Do not be afraid to come forward.

Do not be afraid to come forward.

Victims’ advocates’ fear they may feel abused a second time after a recent controversy with San Antonio Police.

The department's Special Victims Unit mishandled more than 130 cases. They investigate accused sex offenders and family violence cases.

Sandy Salazar shared her story of hope at the Nuestras Voices National Bilingual Sexual Assault Conference. She wasn't just sexually assaulted. She was physically and mentally abused.

She described the 14 years as painful.

"I am a survivor," she said.

She said during this difficult time she didn't have a life.

"You are not yourself," she said. "It is like just a woman walking with no soul. Hopeless."

Salazar is disappointed with the negativity surrounding SAPD.

"We are not just talking about a thing," she said. "We are talking about human beings."

Laura Zárate is with Arte Sana or art heals. It is a victim advocacy group. She said not only are some cases mismanaged, many never get reported. She said that can be extremely damaging and hurtful to the communities.

"When you hear that even after making a phone call, or you're not going to get assisted or may be re-victimized that just throws back the work from victims’ advocates across the nation," she said.

Zárate said you can't generalize what is happening in the SVU department.

"But we do need to be vigilant whenever there is some kind of indicator that survivors of any community are not given the support they need in their process of healing," she said.

Zárate and Salazar hopes this does not discourage victims to seek justice. The women encourage victims to contact your local rape crisis center.

In terms of the SVU department, Detective Kenneth Valdez was terminated. Chief William McManus said a number of cases were not properly followed up on or were otherwise mishandled. Some of the cases are no longer prosecutable due to statutes of limitations.

© 2017 KENS-TV


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